The Fruit of “Fanatical Earnestness”: The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses

Bill McKeever recently took a look at the documented history and evidence surrounding the testimonies of the Book of Mormon witnesses. In “Did the Eleven Witnesses Actually See the Gold Plates?” Mr. McKeever wrote,

“Mormons generally believe that these eleven men actually saw the plates in question, and given what they said in their testimonies, it is easy to see why they draw that conclusion. The three witnesses stated that they ‘beheld and saw the plates and the engravings thereon.’ The eight witnesses, in a similar fashion, stated they ‘saw the engravings,’ and that they had also ‘seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken.’

“Despite the rather lucid description given by these men, it appears that their familiarity with the plates is not as it first appears. Did the witnesses actually see physical plates with their naked eyes? Or was this some sort of mystical experience that involved ‘seeing’ an object that was not really there?

Though not mentioned in Mr. McKeever’s article, this reminded me of something I read some years ago. In Thomas Ford’s A History of Illinois (originally published in 1854) we find a description of the events leading up to the testimony of the eight witnesses:

“…I have been informed by men who were once in the confidence of the prophet that he privately gave a different account of the matter. It is related that the prophet’s early followers were anxious to see the plates; the prophet had always given out that they could not be seen by the carnal eye, but must be spiritually discerned; that the power to see them depended upon faith and was the gift of God, to be obtained by fasting, prayer, mortification of the flesh, and exercises of the spirit; that so soon as he could see the evidences of a strong and lively faith in any of his followers they should be gratified in their holy curiosity. He set them to continual prayer and other spiritual exercises, to acquire this lively faith by means of which the hidden things of God could be spiritually discerned; and at last, when he could delay them no longer, he assembled them in a room and produced a box, which he said contained the precious treasure. The lid was opened; the witnesses peeped into it, but making no discovery, for the box was empty, they said, ‘Brother Joseph, we do not see the plates.’ The prophet answered them, ‘O ye of little faith! how long will God bear with this wicked and perverse generation? Down on your knees, brethren, every one of you, and pray God for the forgiveness of your sins, and for a holy and living faith which cometh down from heaven.’ The disciples dropped to their knees and began to pray in the fervency of their spirit, supplicating God for more than two hours with fanatical earnestness; at the end of which time, looking again into the box, they were now persuaded that they saw the plates.” (177-178)

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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51 Responses to The Fruit of “Fanatical Earnestness”: The Testimony of the Eight Witnesses

  1. Renee says:

    Sounds to me like Joseph knew how to cause mass hysteria to get people to do what he wanted. Not a good attribute for a prophet of God. Then the witnesses had to lie about what they had “seen” because no one would believe the mystical version, and they truly believed they had mystically seen the plates. Proving again that in Mormonism the end justifies the means.

  2. Berean says:

    “If you believe my testimony of the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spoke to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to ‘separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to undo me, so should it be done unto them’. In the Spring of 1838, the heads of the church and many of the members had gone deep into error and blindness.” (David Whitmer, “An Address to All Beleivers”, p. 27)

    March 25, 1838: Martin Harris, in the Kirtland Temple, states that none of the witnesses had physically seen or handled the plates, that they had not seen the plates with their “natural eyes” but rather their “spiritual eyes”. (Joseph Smith Letterbook, Vol.2:64-66, LDS archives, Dan Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, 2:291)

    Like Martin Harris, David Whitmer later testified that he did not see the plates literally with his fleshly eyes: He said he saw the plates “by the eye of faith” handled by an angel. (Palmyra Reflector, March 19, 1831)

  3. reggiewoodsyall says:

    Renee- We could create the same argument for many prophets of old. Specifically, Moses. He “knew hos to cause mass hysteria and to get people to do what he wanted.” Silly and false, right? I say the same about Josepht Smith.

    About the article, I’m not familiar with Thomas Ford’s book the History of Illinois, but I’ll do some research and figure out what I truly think about it, instead of making knee jerk assumptions about what was said. I will say that there are all kinds of reasons why someone who has distanced themselves from a church may want to turn around and make it look false. I believe that this MAY have been the case with some of the witnesses, but once again, I’m not the biggest history buff, so I’ll do some reading/research and see what my opinion is. I will say that many people who participate on this website who once followed Christ through the LDS faith, are now in open rebellion of the church. Not only did they stop believing, but they stopped believing and fight against it, despite the truths you once knew. Many have served LDS missions, been to the temples, and made promises and covenants… and now rebel, make false claims, and deny the true teachings of the Church. People today are no different than people in 1838.

    Sharon- can i submitt an article about someone who was once highly regarded in the Catholic church, who once denounced, began his open rebellion against the catholic church? That could be enlightening to some… let me know your thoughts. If you all get to criticize, can I too? Just kidding Sharon…

    Thanks for the article.

  4. resourcinity says:

    The primary evidence for the authenticity or truth of the Book of Mormon comes from God. As promised in the Book of Mormon, anyone can know of its truth by reading it and asking God with a sincere heart and with real intent to know that it is true (Moroni 10:3–5 – Book of Mormon). “With real intent” means that those who ask must be willing or committed to act upon a manifestation once it is received. Otherwise, there is no promise. The Holy Ghost confirms the truth by revelation directly to the individual. All other evidences for authenticity of the Book of Mormon are secondary. Millions of people have testified that they have received a personal witness from God by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true.

    And just so others can read for themselves what the eight witnesses and signed and never denied, here is their testimony as found in the Book of Mormon:

    Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

    [Snipped. Please read about posting links here.]

  5. germit says:

    To all:
    what’s fascinating to me is that the same rationale that it’s actually BETTER to ONLY have this spiritual sight (devoid on any other kind of sensory or physical witness) is alive and well here on Mormon Coffee. We’ve heard several post that they are GLAD that they have the ABSENCE of back up evidence to ‘spiritual insights’ because it makes their faith that much stronger. Hmmmmm…. I’d say a con man’s dream come true!! Not only is evidence not needed, it’s scoffed at as ‘unspiritual’. Nice. I realize that any kind of ‘evidence’ has its limits and uses, but this some kind of mental disassociation at its best.
    An aside: what’s with using these guys as WITNESSES to the truth of the BoM when they all fell away from the church that the book testifies about ?? I don’t really get that: if they are crdedible witnesses to the BoM, are they also credible about their opinion about Joseph Smith and the LDS church ??(and yes, I realize they still liked the heavenly book, just not the way it was being implemented by the only man who actually, physically, saw the plates… hmmmm) GERMIT

  6. falcon says:

    One of my favorite topics; the phenomonon of “second sight” as practiced by Joseph Smith and his home boys. Joseph Smith would use his magic rock or any other means to get this “second sight”. It comes right out of the occult handbook. Our Mormon friends are having spiritual experiences no doubt. The question to be asked is what is the source of their experiences?
    Anyone ever hear of Wilford Woodruff. He had some great spiritual experiences. From Discourse by Elder Wilford Woodruff, Delivered at the General Conference Salt Lake City, Sunday, Afternoon, Oct. 10th, 1880. “After the death of Joseph Smith I saw and conversed with him many times in my dreams in the night season. On one occasion he and his brother Hyrum met me when on the sea going on a mission to England. I had Dan Jones with me. he received his mission from Joseph Smith before his death; and the prophet talked freely to me about the misssion I was then going to perform. And he also talked to me with regard to the mission of the Twelve Apostles in the flesh, and he laid before me the work they had to perform; and he also spoke of the reward they would receive after death. ……..I have had many interviews with Brother Joseph until the last 15 or 20 years of my life……on one occasion, I saw Brother Brigham and Brother Heber ride in carriage ahead of the carriage in which I rode when I was on my way to attend conference; and they were dressed in the most priestly robes. ….I asked Prest. Young if he would preach to us. He said, ‘No, I have finished my testimony in the flesh I shall not talk to this people any more. But (said he) I have come to see you; I have come to watch over you, and to see what the people are doing….” Exciting spiritual stuff for our Mormon friends. Who cares where it’s coming from if it confirms what they want to believe.
    What’s the big deal about seeing some gold plates when you can see real live dead people?

  7. observer says:

    Sorry, but this is pathetic scholarship. Some unnamed person told Thomas Ford something from over 2 decades before. Please. Will you go to any degree of shoddy scholarship to disprove the Book of Mormon? People like falcon and jackg will read this brief article and accept it as gospel.

    None of the eleven witness who saw the plates EVER denied their testimonies in any way, shape, or form. It appears that you search over material, looking for anything you can make into a controversy. Talk about “itching ears” and making “a man an offender for a word.”

    Joseph wrote that the four men prayed in the woods and nothing happened initially. Martin admitted that he was the problem, that he lacked faith and separated himself from them. Martin left the group and went off by himself to pray. As soon as the prayers were reiterated (without Martin), Oliver, David, and Joseph saw a light appear. Each said this light was brighter than the sun and more intense. In the midst of that light, the angel appeared with the plates. David later told that the angel showed them the plates and turned the leaves. The angel spoke to David, the one witness who did not come back to the Church, saying “David, blessed is the Lord, and he that keeps His commandments.”

    Then they heard the voice of God, and Joseph reported it exactly as the witnesses remembered it. The Lord said: “These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.” As the vision closed, Joseph went and found Martin. The two men knelt in prayer, and the same revelation was repeated to them.

    In 1848 Cowdery said “I wrote . . . the entire Book of Mormon . . . as it fell from the lips of the Prophet [Joseph Smith].” He said, “I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was translated. I also beheld the Interpreters.

  8. observer says:

    In 1870, William H. Homer asked Martin Harris, “‘Do you still believe that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet?” Martin Harris said, “Do I see the sun shining? Just as surely as the sun is shining on us . . . I saw the plates; I saw the angel.” Before his death he responded to the same question by saying as he raised his hand, “Do you see that hand? . . . Are your eyes playing you a trick or something? . . . Well, as sure as you see my hand so sure did I see the angel and the plates.”

    James Moyle interviewed David Witmer in Utah. He said “I induced him to relate to me, under such cross-examination as I was able to interpose, every detail of what took place. He described minutely the spot in the woods, the large log that separated him from the angel, and that he saw the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated. . . . I asked him if there was any possibility for him to have been deceived, and that it was all a mistake, but he said, “No.” I asked him, then, why he had left the Church. [He answered by talking about the policies that differentiated him from Joseph Smith.] He said he knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that through him had been restored the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days.”

    Witmer also later said, “We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon but also the brass plates, the plates of the Book of Ether, the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the people of the world. . . . The fact is, it was just as though Joseph, Oliver and I were sitting just here on a log, when we were overshadowed by a light. It was not like the light of the sun . . . but more glorious and beautiful. It extended away round us . . . [We saw] many records or plates . . . besides the plates of the Book of Mormon, also the Sword of Laban, the Directors . . . and the Interpreters.”


  9. observer says:

    Witmer continued, “I saw them just as plain as I see this bed (striking the bed beside him with his hand), and I heard the voice of the Lord, as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life, declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God.”

    Toward the end of his life, Witmer said “I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery or Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. . . . I was present at the death bed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were, “Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of Mormon.”

    If anything, the fact that the three witnesses left the church and never denied their experience adds credibility. They weren’t brainwashed guys who accepted blindly what the prophet said. All but David came back to the church.

    And falcon- whats with the fascination with seeing dead people. I guess the Mount of Transfiguration was hokey also, eh? I suppose Jesus, Peter, James, and John can be dismissed as well. After all, didn’t they see Moses and Elias?

  10. Andrea says:

    Reggie: “I will say that many people who participate on this website who once followed Christ through the LDS faith, are now in open rebellion of the church. Not only did they stop believing, but they stopped believing and fight against it, despite the truths you once knew. Many have served LDS missions, been to the temples, and made promises and covenants… and now rebel, make false claims, and deny the true teachings of the Church. People today are no different than people in 1838.”

    For the sake of argument, let’s just consider another side to this observation. Perhaps it’s just possible that people who were looking for truth and belonging were deceived by some crafty lies from the father of lies himself and spent many years buying into them. Is this implausible? And then, slowly but surely, God shows them the REAL truth they’ve been chasing after, and it’s so much more grand than the shadow of truth they were living in for so long. And now these people want to proclaim to the world the awesome Good News, the freedom, the truth they have found. They do not wish for others to have to stand for so long in the darkness they once knew, but to immediately step into the light and love of God. Maybe God had nothing to do with it for those men in 1838 –maybe it was simply that they finally saw the deception they were a part of and had to speak out against it so others might not fall into the same trap. Is there even the most remote chance that this is a possibility?? Maybe “people today are no different than people in 1838” but the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS sure is…food for thought.

    The statement “the prophet had always given out that [the plates] could not be seen by the carnal eye, but must be spiritually discerned; that the power to see them depended upon faith and was the gift of God,” immediately raises red flags for me. “Look at my magic trick!!” Please show me somewhere in the Bible when God asks anyone to see things that aren’t physically there?

  11. GRCluff says:

    GRCluff, if you’re going to do any wholesale quotations, make sure you give a citation. For example, here you would cite the History of the Church and apply a blockquote tag. I will go ahead and apply the tag here…

    According to Lucy Smith (see History of the Prophet Joseph, ch. xxxi) the eight witnesses obtained a view of the plates near the Smith residence at Manchester. It was on the occasion of the Prophet Joseph’s coming over to Manchester from Fayette, accompanied by several of the Whitmers and Hiram Page, to make arrangements about getting the Book of Mormon printed. After arriving at the Smith residence, Joseph Smith, Sen., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel H. Smith, joined Joseph’s company from Fayette, and together they repaired to a place in the woods where members of the Smith family were wont to hold secret prayer, and there the plates were shown to these eight witnesses by the Prophet himself. The difference between the testimony given the Three Witnesses and that given to the Eight, is that the former was attended by a splendid display of the glory and power of God and the ministration of an angel, while the latter was attended by no such display, but was a plain, matter-of-fact exhibition of the plates by the Prophet to his friends; and they not only saw the plates, but handled them and examined the engravings upon them.

    According to the testimony of Mrs. Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Eight Witnesses went to that particular place in the woods because “it had been revealed to Joseph that the plates would be carried thither by one of the ancient Nephites.” She also explains that on the evening of the eventful day on which the Eight Witnesses were shown the plates, “we held a meeting in which all the witnesses bore testimony to the facts as stated above.”

    It would seem we have some significant differences in the facts surrounding this event.

    Lucy (Joseph’s mother)- outside in the woods, with many specific details, names and locations.

    Thomas Ford (a man who never met JS in person) in a room with a wooden box– with generalities and no specific names OR places.

    Which of these stories is the likely fabrication?

  12. GRCluff says:


    (Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968], 55.)

    We find another statement of fact on the matter:

    That they were shown these sacred relics by the angel there can be no doubt. In an interview of David Whitmer by Elders Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith at Richmond, Missouri, in September, 1878, Elder Pratt asked him when he saw the plates. In his answer, David Whitmer said these things among others:

    It was in June, 1829—the latter part of the month, and the eight witnesses saw them, I think, the next day or the day after (i.e. one or two days after…). We not only saw the plates of the Book of Mormon but also the brass plates, the plates of the Book of Ether, the plates containing the records of the wickedness and secret combinations of the people of the world down to the time of their being engraved, and many other plates … there appeared as it were, a table with many records or plates upon it, besides the plates of the Book of Mormon, also the Sword of Laban, the Directors i.e., the ball which Lehi had-and the Interpreters [Urim and Thummim]. I saw them just as plain as I see this bed (striking the bed beside him with his hand), and I heard the voice of the Lord, as distinctly as I ever heard anything in my life declaring that the records of the plates of the Book of Mormon were translated by the gift and power of God.

    Again, no box, no room inside–a significant variance in facts.

    I think you have stumbled on a bold face lie that someone failed to validate before being published.

  13. JoelH says:

    Revelation has been widely not accepted at any time or at any interval in the history of the world. And this is what the Book of Mormon is. It’s a wonder any of the prophets or even Christ was believed by anyone when it comes to anyone believing in them or the Bible. So it is impossible for anyone to categorically prove or disprove revelation. It never was intended to be proved or disproved it is simply stated which the witnesses did. No one can deny that. I want to tell you that I have had it revealed to me that the witnesses did see and participate in something and it had to do with something beyond the normal course of events with regard to the plates. Take it or leave it. Not Unlike any Christian’s faith. What’s the argument about my delusion or yours?

  14. Berean says:

    All this talk about the eight witnesses, the three witnesses, Emma Smith, Lucy Smith, etc., is great as long as our Mormon friends keep in mind where most of these people went after Joseph Smith died in the gun battle at Carthage Jail after killing two people and wounding another. They all went straight to the next prophet James J. Strang. Supposedly Joseph Smith named Strang his successor in a letter dated June 18, 1844.

    James Strang produced metal plates as well and had 11 signatures validating the account. From those plates Strang supposedly translated 47 chapters of a book he called “Book of the Law of the Lord”. Who followed Strang’s leadership? Check the list of some of these names with the list from the witnesses of the Book of Mormon:

    David Whitmer
    Martin Harris
    Jacob Whitmer
    John Whitmer
    Hiram Page
    William Smith
    Emma Smith
    Lucy Smith

    They never denied their testimony of Strang either. All of the 11 witnesses claimed to have “second sight” which meant the ability to see spirits. They said they saw the plates in a vision. They never handled or touched the plates.

    David Whitmer was interviewed by Zenas Gurley on January 14, 1885 and David told him that “We did not touch nor handle the plates.” (typescript, D4681, LDS archives)

    When it comes to Emma Smith, the LDS Church in Salt Lake has gone to great lengths to claim her as one of their own, but she never wanted anything to do with them or the leadership of Brigham Young. The Sept. 2008 issue of the Ensign featuring the love affair of Emma & Joseph was highly filtered. LDS Mormons should read “Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith” for a clearer picture in which she speaks of her emotional agony in being married to Joseph with his plural wives which the Ensign mentioned nothing about.

    There are no golden plates today except for the Kinderhook plates showing Joseph to be a fraud. No manuscripts. No Nephite artifacts. No nothing. But who needs any of that when one has a testimony, right?

  15. germit says:

    To resource, Joel, and others: well, an interesting thread, and the kindest thing to be said about these men is that they were not very stable. We are asked to believe that they did not lie when they gave their testimony about what they said they saw and hefted. Some of these men are called “liars” and far worse by LDS leadership just a few years later, “men of low character” and along those lines. They put their faith in other prophets and books, I should also say “prophetesses” because there was also a lady running around with some skill with a seer stone, Berean would remember her name, it escapes me for now. All of this is conveniently swept under the rug, because their revelation is from God, and it’s God’s revelation we should focus on, not any of these peculiarities (or others, and yes, there are others). FoF: can you see why my ‘BS-o-meter’ will not kick off?? OK, these guys never recanted their story of the authenticity to the BoM, but how much weight do I want to give their word?? Are these men TRUST-WORTHY?? Even your own leaders told me, for awhile at least, that some of them were not, and gave me that assessment AFTER the written statement of the BoM. Maybe this seems like a ‘smear campaign’ to you and we should put their flaws in one box, and their testimony to the BoM in another box. I’m slow to do that, is that unfair of me and others ?? And of course the comparison to NT figures does not favor you: yes, they were CALLED odd, or unstable, or “drunk”, or worse, but who made any of those serious charges stick ?? Were they not ,and are they not, seen to have been men of high character and TRUST-WORTHY ?? Play the revelation card, but these questions persist, GERMIT

  16. 2bowdown says:

    Berean: The fact that many witnesses of the Book of Mormon seperated themselves from the church does not change their testimonies. SUPPOSEDLY Joseph wrote a letter naming Strang as his succesor. That letter was written, curiously, in block letters and is highly diputed as a fake. Now I can see why you would mistake Strang’s story with Smith’s…On the surface they seem quite similar. In actuality they are not the same at all. Here are some major differences 1) You might be able to fake metal plates, but good luck with the pillar of light, angels, and recieving the priesthood by the laying on of hands by angels. 2)One of Strang’s witnesses said that his plates was “a mere human invention”. Another admitted that he helped in the fabrication of the plates. None of the witnesses to the Book of Mormon ever denied their testimony of that book. 3) Yes, Strang did come up with about 47 chapters for a little over 300 pages, but how long did it take him to produce this? About 7 years!!! Compare that to a little over two months for Joseph Smith and then actually read the two documents side by side. There is no comparison. Consider Strang’s background as a lawyer and editor and then compare Smith’s background as a uneducated farm boy. There is age difference also. 4)They never denied thier testimony of Strang either??? I haven’t really looked into this subject but did they ever really give a solid testimony that Strang was a Prophet or that his writings were divinely inspired? If so I would like to know were I could find that.

  17. 2bowdown says:

    Germit: Your argument that the witnesses were liars is always a possibility. But ask yourself who would lie for a man who promised nothing in return? Who would risk the persecution and even death of not only themselves but of their families and friends also? These men gave up their whole lives for their testimonies of Joseph Smith and of the Book of Mormon. Is that lying or is that insanity. I guess that would be possible also but not likely considering the number of witnesses both official and unoficcial. Consider also that many of these men had hostile relations with Joseph Smith at different times….What a perfect time it would of been for them to deny their experience and hurt his credibility. Did they?—NO. Rather, they held to their testimonies till their death. Each of the three witnesses re-affirmed their testimony on their death beds and none would deny what they saw. David Whitmer even had his testimony inscribed on his tombstone. Wow! Joseph Smith must have been pretty good deciever. Or just maybe their testimonies are true. Thank goodness for the Lord’s promise…James 1:5-6

  18. falcon says:

    One of our Mormon contributors intimated that I was obcessed with dead people. Actually it is Mormonism that is obcessed with dead people. Within the context of our current discussion let me point out the obvious and break this down to its nub.
    Mormonism is a religion that is 180 degrees out of phase with traditional Biblical Christianity. Mormons claim a different god, a different Jesus, a different spirit and a different plan of salvation from Biblical Christianity. The foundation and cornerstone of Mormonism comes directly out of the occult. Joseph Smith was a practioner of folk magic including the use of the medium of a magic seer stone, divination rods and second sight visions. The basis of the Mormon temple rituals comes out of the occult based practices of Free Masonry. None of these has a place in Biblical Christianity. The seductive nature of the supernatural experiences provided to Mormons by the source, provides the reinforcment for the false Mormon belief system.
    The Bible clearly teaches that Satan will disguise himself as an angel of light. Jesus warned time and again about following false prophets. Mormonism has rejected the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for another gospel-which is really no gospel at all. It draws on a power that does not emanate from the Spirit of God.
    The witnesses to the gold plates were up to their eyeballs in the occult and the practice particularly of second sight. Like these men, Mormons of today are willing to trade in occult practices and reject what God has clearly taught in His Word the Bible. And the Mormon excuse? The Bible is corrupted. Mormonism is not Christianity. It is an occult based religion that rejects the God of the Bible, His Son Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s Word. Now where could such an idea come from?

  19. faithoffathers says:

    Germit said “the kindest thing to be said about these men is that they were not very stable.” What is this based on? Even if I give you that they were not “stable,” they were still seen as honest men by those around them.

    Pomeroy Tucker, who lived in Palmyra at the time and later wrote a book about the early Mormons in the Palmyra area said that Martin’s usual honesty was a very puzzling thing to him. Tucker wondered, How could Martin Harris, who was such an honest man and an intelligent man, say that he had seen an angel and plates?

    E.B. Grandin, who was the publisher of the BOM in 1830 wrote in the newspaper in Palmyra that “Mr. Harris was among the early settlers of this town, and has ever borne the character of an honorable and upright man, and an obliging and benevolent neighbor. He had secured to himself by honest industry a respectable fortune—and he is left a large circle of acquaintances and friends to pity his delusion.” (Wayne Sentinel, 27 May 1831. See also Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981), 103)

    P.W.Lang said of Oliver “I read law with Mr. Cowdery in Tiffin [Ohio] and was intimately acquainted with him from the time he came here until the time he left, which afforded me every opportunity to study and love his ‘noble and true manhood.'”

    David Witmer was recognized as one of “twenty most prominent members of the community” in Richmond, Missouri, where he lived and built a business for fifty years after being estranged with the church.

    Say what you will. These men were viewed as honest and never denied their testimony of the Book of Mormon.

  20. JoelH says:

    It never ceases to amaze me at what lengths people go to break down someone’s faith based on questionable half truths and rhetoric. I know what I have experienced and you know what you have. There is just too much evidence and my revelation to say that all twelve witnesses were lying or deceived. 14 million agree with me. Can you unequivacable say the witnesses lied. If not give it a break! Its just rhetoric! You will receive your reward and I will mine. Good Luck and God bless you!
    With regard to those that went to Strang, even the elect can be deceived. Those for the most part were people that had a problem either with polygamy or Brigham Young or both. Many went to the FLDS now known as the Community of Christ after their poor experience with King James Strang or came back. He was discredited in a LETTER FROM ELDER DUNN TO ELDER APPLEBY, OF PHILADELPHIA dated Aug. 4th 1846 and I quote with respect to the supposed letter of Strang received from the Prophet J.S. Elder Dunn says:
    …I read its content, and saw that it did not correspond with the Revelation that is in the Book of Covenants,
    …Strangs’s revelation commands the apostles, through J. Smith, to proclaim this my doctrine abroad_the gathering at Voree Wisconsin. I asked Mr. Strang if the twelve were the apostles? Yes, he said. they were. I asked if they knew anything about this revelation? He said they did not. I then asked him if he had been ordained a prophet? He replied he had not. I then asked him how he was going to receive an ordination? He replied he did not know………I then told him that they had two letter stamps at the post office in Nauvoo, or else his was a forged one, as I had three letters from the office about the same time his was mailed….His was stamped with black ink, and the letters (or type) were one size larger than the three…and they were stamped in red ink. …I called him to the stand , he saw the difference, and his head dropped as if he had been knocked down…

  21. Arthur Sido says:

    Hi JoelH,

    “It never ceases to amaze me at what lengths people go to break down someone’s faith based on questionable half truths and rhetoric. I know what I have experienced and you know what you have. There is just too much evidence and my revelation to say that all twelve witnesses were lying or deceived. 14 million agree with me”

    First, I would quibble with that 14 million number. How many of those people are still attending or still believing. Go through the membership rolls and see how many people you recognize (although I doubt you can access those records unless you are in the Bishopric) Second, truth is not a popularity contest. We don’t gauge truth by how many are members of a religion. There are over 1 billion muslims, so does that menan that Islam is seven times more true than mormonism? I don’t care how many members a church has (i.e. Joel Osteen), or how fast the allegedly growing. What matters is the Truth and Christianity and mormonism are mutually exclusive, one is must be wrong.

    The “witnesses” issue is not really that relevant. David Koresh had plenty of followers who swore he was a prophet. There is a kooky guy in Canada named Victor Hafichuk that has a bunch of followers who will swear (literally!) that he is a prophet. The reason God preserved His Scripture was so that His people would have an authority to turn to, a source for what is or is not true. When someone says “Thus sayeth the Lord” we can go back to what the Lord has already said and compare. Praying for a burning in the bosom, lining up “witnesses”, relying on numbers all fall short because they are based on human frailty. If you want to know what is true, turn to the Bible and there you will see where mormonism fails. We throw all of these issues at mormons to show them where mormonism is wrong, but ultimately it comes down to this: God’s truth is revealed in His Word, and unless the Spirit changes a persons heart the Word of God is foolishness and an offense.

  22. JoelH says:

    Rhetoric! Rhetoric! Rhetoric! Question the number of other witnesses in the church, doesn’t change the fact we claim as a body that it is true by revelation. Rhetoric is exactly how the Nicene Creed was developed. Rhetoric and Philosophy mixed in with a bunch of Helenism. No revelation there! and look what it gets you. A bunch of folks with a bunch of different outlooks. The Creed made the early Christians look like heretics and you make the early Christians look like heretics. They believed in revelation and restoration just as these witnesses did.

    Then you bounce to David Koresh?? Rhetoric Rhetoric! Rhetoric!

    Then the Bible??? Which of the 8,000 old copies (non exactly the same) do we take our scripture from? And then the copies of the copies and the language problems in translation?? It was absolutely necessary that the truth needed to be restored and the fallacies straightened out through a living prophet. Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

    Not only that, but I’ll bet that you have had revelation as well in spite of the old rhetoricians of old telling you otherwise. How would you know Christ?
    Too much pointing against him to take it at face value because the rhetoric will shout you down! Ever had God answer your prayers? Revelation at its best!

    So I love the Bible, I love modern day revelation and hope to get much more revelation just as those witnesses did. God loves us with a living church… Please don’t rant on something that is based on the rock of revelation and does so much good! The devil appreciates your every move to try and discredit it. If you win, its one less good Mormon and one less person to do good in a world that needs its goodness so desperately.

    God love you!

  23. JoelH says:

    God’s Truth is revealed in His Word through his servants the Prophets yesterday, today and forever and what you are trying to do is destroy peoples faith by throwing half baked accusations on the truth so the most delicate of Saints might question the bit of faith that they have obtained while getting lost in the rhetoric. That my friend is dishonest, deceitful and devilish. I think a good dose of repentance is in order here along with asking for a little forgiveness. At least that is what Christ would have one do in your circumstance.

    [Joel, you are crossing a line here. Please discuss issues, not individuals. You may want to familiarize yourself with the Mormon Coffee comment policy. Thanks.]

  24. falcon says:

    From where does the power of revelation and second sight come from within Mormonism? A false prophet, who has as a profession, digging for buried treasure which he sees in the ground with his magic rock, arises and proclaims that traditional Christianity is an abomination and that he has a new revelation to restore that which is lost. He works his magic by the use of his (magic) seer stone that he places in a hat and sees a vision when he places his face in the hat that reveals a new scripture. He proclaims the Bible as corrupt, the Church as corrupt and with his power of persuasion he leads followers to see things with their spiritual eyes which their natural eyes cannot see. As a member of the Masonic Lodge, he borrows liberally from their occult rituals which he introduces into his own religious temples. The prophet proclaims that an angel with a sword has appeared to him and threatened him with death unless he starts taking on more women, who when sealed to him will accompany him on the pathway to becoming exaltation and becoming a god.
    Is it really that hard to see through this scheme? It reinforces in my mind that concept that people will believe certain things because they want to….and…..if a person says they believe something based on a revelation they think they got from God, the discussion is over.

  25. Arthur Sido says:


    It is not mere rhetoric, I have lived where you are. I thought that the prophet was true, that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, that the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints was the true restored church. It all seemed so comfortable to my unregenerate mind. Until that day when God showed me differently. I encourage you to read my testimony so you know where I am comming from.

    I intend no deceipt or dishonesty, I am just sharing my own experience and relating what God’s Word says. If I am seeking to destroy anything, it is people’s self reliance so that they can see their state before a just and holy God.

    You are making a common mistake. Christians believe in revelation and prophecy, just not new and different prophecy. There are no new prophets, because none are needed (Heb 1:1-2) Every sinner who is saved has a revelation that comes from God, a change of heart (Eze 36) by which we are born-again (John 3:3), without which no one may see heaven. The problem we have with mormonism is that what Smith claimed to have had revealed to him is radically different than that which God revealed through the Bible. They cannot both be correct, surely you can see that. Christ cannot be both infinite and God while at the same time being created and at best one of a mulitude of gods. Men cannot be saved by grace through faith and at the same time perform acts of righteousness to achieve exaltation. I take no offense at your words and intend none with mine. But something drew you here and I pray it is the Holy Spirit and that God will open your eyes to the truth of His Son and the hopelessness of mormonism.

  26. 2bowdown says:

    Joel: Why do you believe that revelation and prophecy has ceased. Does the Bible say that? Heb 1:1-2 surely doesn’t and if you even try to read your conclusion into that scripture, you still have to figure out why revelation was still recieved after Christ ascended into heaven. LDS Doctrine will back up just about all of thier beliefs with the Bible. The problem is that everyone interprets scripture differently…Hence…the need for REVELATION…

  27. falcon says:

    I’ve said several times in the last months here that I can find scripture to back-up a doctrine of a mother-ship hovering over the earth transporting humans back and forth and infusing them with secret revelation. There are rules governing scriptural interpretation. The problem with LDS folks is that their standard for prophets and prophesy is low. The track record of Mormon prophets going back to the original Joseph Smith is abysmil. Check-out 1st Cor. 14 and it gives a clear direction on prophesy for Christians. But since Mormonism is not Christian and has a false prophet, a false gospel, false god, false Jesus, false Spirit, false priesthood, and generally an occult base, anything that comes out as revelation is what? Yes, false.

  28. GRCluff says:

    In the Journal of Discourses published by the LDS Church, Brigham Young related:

    Brigham Young, on June 17, 1877, related the following: “I lived right in the country where the plates were found from which the Book of Mormon was translated, and I know a great many things pertaining to that country. I believe I will take the liberty to tell you of another circumstance that will be as marvelous as anything can be. This is an incident in the life of Oliver Cowdery, that he did not take the liberty of telling such things in meeting as I take.
    “… Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translated all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the Hill Cumorah, which he did.

    “Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light, but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in corners and along the walls.

    “The first time they went there the SWORD OF LABAN hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: ‘This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” I tell you this is coming not only from Oliver Cowdery, but others who were familiar with it, and who understood it… I take the liberty of referring to those things so they will not be forgotten and lost

  29. resourcinity, the language you use of “direct revelation” is, in Mormoinsm, thick rhetoric that denotes a private emotional ephiphany or eurphoria. For Christians, God directly reveals himself through his personal word, the Bible, through creation (which he sustains by the very power of his word), and by the internal witness of the Spirit given to those adopted into the family by God.

    reggiewoodsyall, I realize you think you have a lot to gain by poisoning the well and impugning the motives of naysayers, but unless you’re going to offer up specific evidence, character assassination doesn’t fly here.

    observer said,

    None of the eleven witness who saw the plates EVER denied their testimonies in any way, shape, or form.

    You’re missing the point, observer. The pattern of evidence shows that the witnesses (especially the three) saw the plates in a visionary manner, in “second sight”. That they never finally denied their visionary experiences misses the point that they were, contrary to the notions of most Mormons (who believe the witnesses had physical, natural eye-witness experiences), visionary experiences. These folks “beheld with their eyes”, but given the mountain of evidence, the obvious question is: physical eyes, or spiritual eyes? Of course, what such people saw with spiritual eyes they say was as visible as something seen with physical eyes. But just because they think the two experiences are essentially equivalent doesn’t make the actual experiences natural or physical, and it isn’t the kind of thing that should hold up in a court of law looking for eye-witness testimony.

    Observer quotes Whitmer on having seen other records and plates, but again, he misses the point, as what Whitmer recounts is yet again contextualized within a story of an angelic vision. Again, this only helps our point: despite the popular Mormon notion that the early witnesses were natural eye-witnesses, they were instead telling of visionary experiences consistent with a culture of “second sight”.

    GRCluff, you repeat observer’s quote of Whitmer, but, like “observer”, you seem to forget that Whitmer is recounting the main visionary experience that Bill McKeever speaks of in his article. Please help me understand how you see Whitmer’s words helping your case.

    Mormons seem to cling to “they never denied their testimonies” concerning the Three Witnesses, but I fail to see this as compelling as the testimony was of something seen in an invoked visionary experience.

    GRCluff, your quote of Brigham Young concerning Cowdery and Smith’s experience with the cave of treasure only makes me scratch my head more. How on earth does this help Smith and the early “witnesses” seem any more reliable? How is this supposed to lead us to believe such accounts weren’t borne out of a culture of “second sight” and a magical worldview?

    faithoffathers, I recommend reading Grant Palmer’s chapter on the witnesses, with a special eye to the historical evidence given to show that Martin Harris was known as especially superstitious.

    JoelH, I recommend that you calm down and focus on more constructive comments. Ask God to give you a better understanding of why we Christians are so concerned and passionate over Mormons. We love you and we want you to know the truth. As Jesus said, the truth will set you free!

  30. I have several problems with this view of ‘revelation’.

    It appears to me that the Biblical pattern is that God generally reveals himself whether we believe it or not. Jesus does not even hold back on the Pharisees, who probably had less ‘faith’ than Martin Harris; he had no objection to them questioning and scrutinizing him. Perhaps someone else can point me to some Biblical event in which God withholds physical evidence because of someone’s lack of faith, because I can’t think of one.

    Also, all God’s acts are public affairs – there’s no ‘private viewing’ or secret ceremony. Consider the life and mission of Jesus, all played out in public, and not always to a ‘believing’ audience. “We have seen his glory” (John 1:14), “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have see with our own eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched…” (1 John 1:1).

    Does Jesus object when Thomas demands to physically scrutinize him? Does he command Thomas to leave the room so that the others can affirm their beliefs? Of course not (John 20:24-29).

    I have posted before about Jeremiah 1 “The Word of the Lord came to me saying…Jeremiah, what do you see?”

    What I see is a con.

  31. falcon says:

    Someone can probably find the verse in the NT where Paul talks about individuals building their street cred on “visions they have seen”. I grow weary, even with my Christian brethren, who are constantly getting a new “word from the Lord” or are having an angelic visitation or who deliver “prophesy” with all sorts of authoritative sounding rhetoric and vocal intonation. I see this particularly in the prophetic movement within the Church. I listen to these folks talking endlessly about “what God is doing now” in this season, but that season is completed and now we have a new season with new revelation. This revelation and visioning and supernatural manifestations finds it’s way into all kinds of religious traditions. I remember Oral Roberts seeing his fifty foot or whatever Jesus that indicated that he was to build the City of hope medical center. It got built, eventually went under, and the Jesus Oral saw turns out was in his “mind’s eye”. I think that’s another way of saying he imagined it. I grew-up with stories of Lourdes and Fatima and the Virgin Mary appearing. You can get a crowd up really fast if you can claim a visitation from the Virgin Mary.
    So the witnesses saw the gold plates with their “eyes of faith” their “spiritual eyes”. Try it yourself. It works every time.

  32. germit says:

    AARON and others: great job AARoN capturing the nature of our complaint with the witnesses. This has, to me, very little to do with an HONESTY problem. I am ready to accept that these were not fundamentally dishonest people. But gullible, superstitious, and easily impressionable people can be led down many a path. One of my “LDS things to do” will be to collect the various OTHER visions, prophecies, and seer stone experiences that these folks had. Martin Harris, I believe, gave testimony to some other “prophets/prophetesses” who were using these stones and having visions. When I asked before if these men were TRUST-WORTHY I do NOT mean to doubt that
    1)they themselves fully believed the visions and events
    2)or that in normal matters they do not tell the truth; remember it was the LDS leaders who (for a while) called some of them “liars”, not me
    The Brigham episode seems to be “I’ll see your vision, and raise you a triple-vision”. TITANNIC points out, wisely, the private (hence unverifiable) nature of that kind of experience. We can know for sure that these men clung on to their belief in those experiences to their dying day. If that spells “proof” to someone, I’d say you have the bar too low.
    An aside: some of these guys get kudos from me for bucking JS polygamy, that’s why several started to doubt the Prophet: to me that speaks well of them and not a sign of ‘lack of faith’. GERMIT

  33. falcon says:

    It really isn’t that hard to debunk revelations, visions, supernatural occurances, witnesses, testimonies, appearances, aberations, magic rocks, hay even holy water-a bottle of which I used to keep in my bedroom as a kid. The problem is that people so badly want it all to be true. It’s a private reality experience. It fills in the gaps and provides some bonifides to the true believers.
    Try this out for an exercise in debunking and tell me what forces in the spiritual realm drive it.
    “The temple where the ordinances can be administered for the dead, is the place to hear from the dead. The Priesthood in the flesh, when necessary, will receive communications from the Priesthood behind the vail. Most holy conversations on all things pertaining to the redemption of the race, belong in the places prepared in temples.” (Charles W. Penrose, Mormon theologian/apostle/First Counselor, Mormon Doctrine, pages 40-41)
    I’m told that some of Penrose lyrics appear in the current LDS hymnal including Beautiful Zion for Me, God of Our Fathers, We come Unto Thee, O Ye Mountains High.
    So whether it’s second sight visons or communicating with the dead in the temple, Mormonism draws it’s supernatural experiences from the dark side. It all feels real special and spiritual. That’s the seductive nature of spiritism and it draws folks who are desperate to have their religious belief system validated.

  34. GRCluff says:

    Aaron asked:
    “How on earth does this help Smith and the early “witnesses” seem any more reliable?”

    Here’s how it helps. The Oliver Cowdery story comes from a different time and date than the David Whitmer story, AND they come from independent sources. They agree on several points of fact. More artifacts than just the plates, a table not a box, in a remote location, not near any residence, etc. All of these details are quite different in the story related in this article.

    If all the accounts related by people who were actual witnesses of the events in question tend to agree on the details, then the hearsay, second hand information quoted here MUST be idenified as the fraud that it is.

    Let me ask you this. When you read the story of Stephen in Acts 7

    7:56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

    Do you ask:
    “How is this supposed to lead us to believe such accounts weren’t borne out of a culture of “second sight” and a magical worldview?”

    Yes, I guess the prophet Stephen in Acts DID endorse a curture of “second sight” and a magical worldview. Do you think the people throwing stones at him saw the vision? And then kept throwing the stones until he died?

    I guess JS has that in common with a lot of prophets. And you are the one throwing the stones.

  35. falcon says:

    Here’s your problem. Those things that happened in the Bible were by the Spirit of God. First of all Mormons discount the Bible, seeing it as corrupted scripture. Secondly, Jesus and the apostles didn’t run around with magic rocks that they put into a hat to get a second sight. They didn’t use divination rods like Joseph Smith did; things that come right out of the occult. Stephen didn’t practice scrying with a medium like a seer stone. The Bible forbids these things. Mormonism is a mix and match of occult practices and it’s just amazing that with it right in front of their noses, Mormons don’t see it. They’re tied up in an occult based religion that draws it’s revelations, visions and supernatural occurances from the dark side. The temple rituals are rip offs from the occult based organization of Free Masonry. Necromancy is an intregal part of the Mormon experience. Consider this:
    “I will here say, before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endoewment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.’ There were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights…..I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon brother McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaraton of Independence…..” Discourse by Elder Wilford Woodruff delivered in the new tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sept. 16, 1877.
    This is what you folks have as the foundation and practice for your religion. It’s not a religion that comes from the living God. If ever I have witnessed spiritual blindness and deafness it is in Mormonism.

  36. Berean says:


    The prophetess with the black seer stone is mentioned by Lucy Smith (Joseph Smith’s mother) in her book “Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet and His Progenitors for Many Generations”, pp.211-213. Here it is:

    “At this time a certain young woman, who was living at David Whitmer’s, uttered a prophecy, which she said was given her by looking through a black stone that she had found. This prophecy gave some altogether a new idea of things. She said the reason why one third of the church would turn away from Joseph, was because that he was in transgression himself; that he would fall from his office on account of the same; that David Whitmer, or Martin Harris would fill Joseph’s place; and that the one who did not succeed him, would be the counselor to the one that did.

    “This girl soon became an object of great attention among those who were disaffected. Doctor Williams, the ex-justice of the peace, became her scribe, and wrote revelations for her…They held their secret meetings at David Whitmer’s, and when the young woman, who was their instructress, was through giving revelations she intended for the evening, she would jump out of her chair and dance over the floor, boasting of her power, until she perfectly exhausted. Her proselytes would also, in the most vehement manmer, proclaim their purity and holiness, and the mighty power which they were going to have. They made a standing appointment for meetings every Thursday, by the pure church in the house of the Lord. They were decidedly in favor of the new party.”

  37. Michael P says:

    This is one of those topics that is in many ways very subjective. From the responses, it certainly seems that way, at least.

    Some good points are made by the Mormon apologists here. But I think (surprise, surprise) that because there is such extensive evidence that something is amiss with these witnesses, the stronger argument rests on the side that they truly did not see physical plates.

    Too many arguments have been made to recount each, but a more recent one by Cluff recounts another story by Cowdry. He states that there are some similarities that could not be there if the stories were false. Such eveidence as: “More artifacts than just the plates, a table not a box, in a remote location, not near any residence, etc. All of these details are quite different in the story related in this article.”

    A table vs a box, doesn’t say much. A remote location; neither does that. Not near a residence; isn’t this now redundant? The first requires some more info: more artifacts than just the plates. Are there specific artifacts that are listed? If so, how detailed are they recounted?

    And one other question has to be asked: different times don’t necessarilly mean much. Did they communicate with each other about the first? Directly or perhaps through another person/source? There are very real possibilities to explain the similarities, and since everything else is in question (doubt?) regarding Joseph Smith and his peers, I am absolutely convinced it is all false.

    What seems to be true in Mormonism is that for every story that seems to make sense in favor of it, there’s another that contradicts it. Such it is here.

    Now, there are a couple reasons why this could be. 1) All the contradictory stories are lies. 2) Things are taken out of context and when looked at more fully aren’t so bad. 3) These people really truly believed what they saw and di. 4) Joseph Smith created the stories and tricked everyone else.

  38. GRCluff says:

    falcon said:
    “Secondly, Jesus and the apostles didn’t run around with magic rocks that they put into a hat to get a second sight.”

    I found this story about BoM translation in

    B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, 2 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1907], 1: 258.)

    Martin Harris’ description of the manner of translating while he was the amanuensis of the prophet is as follows:
    “By aid of the Seer Stone, sentences would appear and were, read by the prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say ‘written’ and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but: if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used.”
    On one occasion Harris sought to test the genuineness of the prophet’s procedure in the matter of translation, as follows:
    “Martin said that after continued translation they would become weary and would go down to the river and exercise in throwing stones out on the river, etc. While so doing on one occasion. Martin found a stone very much resembling the one used for translating, and on resuming their labors of translation Martin put in place [of the Seer Stone] the stone that he had found. He said that the prophet remained silent unusually and intently gazing in darkness, no trace of the usual sentence appearing. Much surprised, Joseph exclaimed: ‘Martin! what is the matter? all is as dark as Egypt.’ Martin’s countenance betrayed him, and the prophet asked Martin why he had done so. Martin said, to stop the mouths of fools, who had told him that the prophet had learned those sentences and was merely repeating them.”

    So, this kind of test should be to your liking. A similar looking stone would not suffice. Evidence that he was not inventing the stuff himself? Hmmmmmmmmm?

  39. I’m still struck by the differences between the accounts of the ‘witnesses’ of the Gold Plates and the witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. On the one hand, the witnesses could not see the plates unless they had summoned enough conviction first; on the other the witnesses of the resurrection weren’t expecting it. Read the accounts for yourself (if you can bring yourself to trust them); Jesus witnesses had seen him die and they fully expected him to stay dead. It wasn’t their faith that had conjured up this revelation of God, it was God himself, and he seems to have done it in the face of the disciples unbelief.

    If the same God had produced the plates for JS, we should expect him to say “here they are! look, touch, examine, scrutinize”. The Mormon God hides away the most important artifact in human history; the Christian God surrenders his own Son into our hands for us to do with as we please.

  40. germit says:

    To all: this is a little ‘slap dash’ but Martins excellent post above got me going.
    Add to that how different God’s view of WHO gets to see the ‘goods’ first. In the New Testament, HE appears to WOMEN first, though they don’t recgnize HIM at first. Lowly women with no rank or prized position within the church. I don’t think that was an accident (similar to the woman at the well, a woman of loose morals, being one of the first evangelists). Contrast with the men of higher standing being counted ‘worthy’ to ‘see’ the plates. Kind of like GOD throwing the faithful a bone. How dissimilar !! The NT GOD COMES AND GETS US, HE INITIATES. He doesn’t wait for us to jump through the hoops, HE pulls us through the hoop to HIMSELF. And of course, these same NT witnesses were not late seen to be chasing Messiah’s #2,3,4, or 5. Contrast with the trust factor in JS that was on again, off again, on again, etc…
    Great post Martin: once again, the difference is a GOD who has acted in space, time , and history, and therefore welcomes examination from all in ways that can be known and made sure.
    Cluff: I don’t think you understand the nature of what most of us are claiming. I very well believe JS’ ‘cut and paste’ job had LARGE amounts of spiritual influence of the WRONG variety. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if real letters were popping up withing the clear rock. If this ‘help’ were not from GOD, then what….? Keep in mind that probably everyone here at MC believes in a very real devil. Your Utah cave story was great theatre , by the way, I’m looking forward to the movie with Nicholas Cage as the lead.

  41. LDSSTITANIC says:

    To anyone…hopefully this fits into this post somewhere…what exactly is the story on Moroni? At the end of his book he says “And now I bid unto all, farewell. I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of the great Jehovah, the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead. Amen.”

    Sooo…my question would be how did he get resurrected BEFORE the judgment day? Or was becoming an angel different from resurrection? I’m confused by exactly what state he is in. Anyone know the explanation on him? Other than Joseph getting his name mixed up as Nephi in the early days….

  42. To repeat what I’ve already said many times before on Mormon Coffee: I don’t have any problem with supernaturalism or visionary experiences per se. What primarily bothers me is that Mormon history has been sanitized to the degree that the common Mormon mistakes what was originally described as a visionary experience for a more natural eye-witness experience (the kind that would hold more weight in a court of law).

    Joseph Smith seemingly tried to parallel the eleven apostolic witnesses to the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. And with good reason: The natural, real, plain, collective eye-witness testimony of the apostles is one of the foundational reasons given to trust in the risen Christ as Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 15). Someone like Smith wanted that kind of powerful evidence on his side too. But unfortunately for Smith, neither Paul’s vision, nor Stephen’s vision, functions in this way in the New Testament.

  43. germit says:

    To all: and here’s post #3 before lunch, I might regret this later

    I’m sure my LDS friends do not care for this comparison, but Owens’ comments in one of the articles on the ‘Magic’ thread are worth pondering reg. LDS as a form of GNOSTICISM. This may seem far fetched at first, but when you consider the question “what were these 11 men witnesses TO? What are there claims?? Does it not fall into a category of special information and experiences made availabe to the few?? Yeah, I know, this is all “revelation”, that is a nice label, but contrast this with what the NT figures are witness to: a historical event that is open and plain to see, heck, even Roman soldiers got in on this one, some were VERY sorry they had the tomb watch duty that morning (they got a very unexpected early retirement). BOTH the orthodox and LDS stories involve the supernatural, but the similarities fade quickly, and THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SPECIOUS OR SECRETIVE OR OCCULTIC about the resurrection. Just as the Gnostics taught that greater (saving) knowledge could be made available to a few, now the special knowledge of the restored gospel can be had IF….. and along comes to path to that, including (surprise) secret ritual and ordinances. I’m NOT suggesting a planned out conspiracy or overt ‘gnostic movement’ here. I don’t think JS could spell GNOSTIC. But as I’ve already mentioned once today, I believe in a very real devil. Read up on early church history as it relates to gnosticism and come to your own conclusions, this is an interesting direction for investigation. Keep in mind that ERROR is NOT created, it is recycled, because the father of lies is NOT a creative agent (that HAS to bug him to no end). See ya’ll Wed. GERMIT

  44. BornagainMormon says:

    I finally took the time to catch up a little on the threads last night- about three hours worth. One thing that hit me about the discussion for the last few weeks was that the tactics many of you are using against the Book of Mormon are the same tactics that agnostics use against Christianity.
    It is surprising to me that you are so critical of the workings of the Spirit as a witness of truth. It reminds me of discussions I have had with agnostics. You can play the evidence game endlessly, but in the end, they will tell you there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the idea that a being- even a godly being- could provide himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. You know what. They are right. I can argue with them for eternity, but it is unlikely that I will- in this life- ever be able to scientifically prove to them the reality of the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ.
    In the end, conversion to Christianity is a spiritual experience. It is not a debate. When the Lord speaks to your heart, it is the confirming witness and even though you can’t scientifically prove it, you know it is true.
    I find many of your requests for more information interesting. I wonder what your response to an atheist is when they pound you with the same evidence issues you use to pound the Book of Mormon. Can you really prove that Christ suffered for the sins of the world? I don’t think so.
    I believe honest Christians admit that conversion to Christ is very much spiritual. I would be surprised if there are very many Christians out there who have never been faced with the evidence debate about the atonement.
    This is why your criticism of the witness of the Spirit is so surprising to me. Yes we all enjoy it when the scientific evidence supports our belief, but if our belief is largely in physical evidence, we are built upon a moving foundation. I would tend to believe that many of those who are demanding physical evidence on this site are doing so cont.

  45. BornagainMormon says:

    strictly for the sake of debate, when in reality, their conversion to Christ is very much built upon a fundamentally spiritual foundation.
    Debate away. It is evident many of you enjoy this type of thing much more than I. But in the end, most Christians will concede that being born again is very much more a spiritual experience than a cerebral one.

  46. Arthur Sido says:

    BaM, “I believe honest Christians admit that conversion to Christ is very much spiritual. I would be surprised if there are very many Christians out there who have never been faced with the evidence debate about the atonement.”

    Are you reading the posts? Christianity is a completely supernatural faith. Being born again is a spiritual experience but it is one that tied into the Word of God. My own conversion experience is a completely supernatural event. Being born again is not something we can do ourselves or even initiate, it requires the intervention of God first to change our hearts (Eze 36:26) But we cannot beliee every experience without question, but need to test all things against Scripture. We are not arguing against spirituality, we are arguing against what Smith claimed he experienced because it contradicts the Bible. You can’t have it both ways, both the Bible and mormonism because they teach different things. If you have an experience and I have an experience that contradicts yours, where do we go to decide which one is true? To the source of all authority, the Word of God.

    There is a difference between scientific evidence and a complete lack of evidence. While you cannot prove scientifically that Christ rose from the dead, I can show you where He was crucified, where he was buried and rose. I can show you where He taught and walked. The Bible is full of historically verifiable places and people, the BoM describes a people who never existed written in a langauge that never existed. They may as well have lived on the moon. We cannot and should not seek to “prove” Christianity by means of evidence, but we also shoudn’t ignore the complete lack of evidence for anything in the BoM or the BoA. But what is truly damning is the false gospel it preaches in opposition to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  47. BornagainMormon says:

    I have often thought of the apostle Paul the last few weeks as I have participated in these discussions. I am sure that he was convinced that the evidence was on his side as he persecuted the saints, but one amazing spiritual experience changed his heart in an instant. I am fairly certain that it would take that type of an experience to convince many of you that you are in err about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Why the Lord chose to provide Paul with such a unique experience, I am uncertain, but I assume it was because he was honestly mislead. I personally believe this is the case with many of you. I do not believe your intent is malicious. I honestly believe you believe you are in the right. The real test for all of us is when the Lord speaks to us and we know it, will we be humble enough to follow Him wherever He leads us, or will we turn away if He leads us where we did not expect.

  48. germit says:

    BoAgain: thanks for hanging with us at Mormon Coffee; I appreciate your open and candid attitude as you post.
    I’ve noticed that over the last month or more, you’ve lost some of your ecumenical ‘fuzziness’ and have exhorted us to more strongly consider your faith and leaders. That’s a very good thing, the ‘losing the fuzziness’ part, that is. God would have us hot or cold, and who knows, maybe you are the hot one and I’m the cold one, that is a possibility. Your earlier posts seemed a lot like the lipstick lady: afraid to offend and layered in niceness. I’m glad to see you take a stronger stand for what you believe in, this may sound odd for someone who is not that moved by your arguments (so far). I don’t see anything gained by riding the fence, and you don’t seem to be going that way: good for you. AS for the agnostics, I certainly welcome their questions, and they quickly find out that MOST of their questions have very clear and solid answers, not always in the “PROOF” category, but in the “STRONG EVIDENCE” category. More that a few strident agnostics that set out to marshal evidence against us wound up converting: Lee Stroebel comes to mind, and Malcom Muggeridge. Hmmmmmm. Your points about the faith being primarily spiritual is well taken and certainly true, who wants a faith that is merely intellectually defendable ?? How dull is that ? It may have been precisely that kind of religion that spurred on the inception of Mormonism and other faiths in upstate NY. Just a thot. Hope you are getting a positive experience out of Mormon Coffee, don’t take in too many caffeinated fumes. GERMIT

  49. Arthur Sido says:

    BAM, interesting that you mention that. I would say the same thing for you, that until God acts miraculously in your life, as he did in mine and in Paul’s and in every other Christian’s life, you will also be misled. His sheep hear His voice and follow Him, and a false shepherd they will not follow, but others do not hear His voice because they are not His sheep. So the question is, which is the authentic voice? Your feelings about the Book of Mormon or the Bible, because what the Bible teaches and what mormonism teaches are mutually exclusive. They cannot both be right, so at least one must be wrong. I can testify to you that when I heard the voice of the Good Shepherd in His Word, that what I saw was not mormonism and in that jarring experience I saw that I had been misled.

    the real test for you is to see if you can set aside your mormon preconceptions and see what God has revealed in His Word, and compare it to what you are taught by your leaders past and present. I had some missionaries over last week and they are coming back again, and I have challenged them to get into the Word esp. the books of Hebrews and Leviticus to see why there is no need for a human priesthood anymore. I am curious to see if they were able to take the blinders off. If God will take the blinders off of you as well, you too wil hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling you out. That is my sincere prayer for you.

  50. BornagainMormon says:

    germit and Aurthur,
    Thank you for your posts. I found both to be as sincere as any I have seen in this forum.
    Let me just assure you that when I say, “The real test for all of us is when the Lord speaks to us and we know it, will we be humble enough to follow Him wherever He leads us, or will we turn away if He leads us where we did not expect,” I really do mean all of us- including and especially myself. This type of statement is useless if only directed at everyone else. It is something that I feel strongly about in a personal sense, because it has been an integral part of my faith and continues to be.
    As far as, “They cannot both be right, so at least one must be wrong.” I understand how you feel that way given the context you look at it with. But for me, the bottom line is Christ, and I see His hand at work in both. This leads me to believe that in His eyes it is broader than what some might believe.

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